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Immunity. 2011 Jun 24;34(6):866-78. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2011.03.027.

DDX1, DDX21, and DHX36 helicases form a complex with the adaptor molecule TRIF to sense dsRNA in dendritic cells.

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Department of Immunology, Center for Cancer Immunology Research, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The innate immune system detects viral infection predominantly by sensing viral nucleic acids. We report the identification of a viral sensor, consisting of RNA helicases DDX1, DDX21, and DHX36, and the adaptor molecule TRIF, by isolation and sequencing of poly I:C-binding proteins in myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs). Knockdown of each helicase or TRIF by shRNA blocked the ability of mDCs to mount type I interferon (IFN) and cytokine responses to poly I:C, influenza A virus, and reovirus. Although DDX1 bound poly I:C via its Helicase A domain, DHX36 and DDX21 bound the TIR domain of TRIF via their HA2-DUF and PRK domains, respectively. This sensor was localized within the cytosol, independent of the endosomes. Thus, the DDX1-DDX21-DHX36 complex represents a dsRNA sensor that uses the TRIF pathway to activate type I IFN responses in the cytosol of mDCs.

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